H E R O E S A N D H E R O I S M
Selections from the Agni Yoga Series
Presented before the Agni Yoga Society, April 12, 2011
1. How differently is the manifestation of heroism commonly understood. One should remember that a hero is not always proclaimed by a trumpet blast. Not in universal glamour does a hero of the spirit proceed, but in true draining of the chalice of poison. To those who demand more, more is often given, to meet their requirement, but earthly gifts are no affirmation of higher gifts. Verily a hero of the spirit proceeds by another path. His burden will be the Burden of the World. And how wonderful is the countenance of the hero of the spirit, proceeding impetuously onward in silence and in solitude! The fiery creativeness of the hero of the spirit is comparable only to the Fire of the highest tension, because the higher flame is invisible. The space intensifies greatly the rays of the creators of the spirit. Is not the image of the Giving One an image of the miracle-working Heart? Thus let us remember on the path to the Fiery World.
Fiery World III, 42
2. The heart of a hero knows self-sacrifice in the name of Common Good. It knows self-renunciation and Great Service. The path of the hero is not always strewn with wreaths of human gratitude. The path of the hero proceeds by thorny ways. Therefore, one should always revere the path of self-renunciation, because each advancement upon the face of the Earth which affirms heroism of the spirit guarantees a new beginning. How many heroes of the spirit could have been seen upon mankind’s path as torchbearers! But these fires of the spirit are unnoticeable to the eye of ignorance. Thus, on the path to the Fiery World one should revere the heroes of everyday life who saturate life with an achievement in each hour. The community of labor should cultivate these heroes, because the pillars of a nation stand erect only on the qualities of heroism of the spirit and the heart. He who knows the heroism of self-renunciation will not be a chance hero of an hour--the records of space will mark forever the labors of the hero of the spirit.
Fiery World III, 43
3. A heroic attitude should be maintained in all circumstances. This is a test that must be passed if true evolution is to be supported. We divide heroes into the unconscious and the consciously determined ones. Those who understand what they labor and suffer for are truly heroic. Knowing the truth of their situation they still do not turn from danger. Amidst the currents of space, amidst evil will, amidst terror, courageous heroes labor and create. Heroes know that their earthly life can end at any moment, but they do not reduce their efforts. They realize that their selfless podvig will continue even under the harshest circumstances. Nothing can stop their will from manifesting itself in any sphere. There is a great difference between the unconscious and the consciously determined heroes. In the first there may be a spontaneous exaltation. But although temporary reactions may occur and cause the determined ones to pull back, they will never give up, and will continue on their path, applying the cosmic knowledge accumulated through centuries. They know how to transmute knowledge into feeling and how to fill their hearts with it. Where the heart is full there is a soaring into the future. An austere knowledge of danger inspires the hero. I speak of this to emphasize that heroism is the fundamental stronghold of Our Inner Life. Examples of heroism can be seen in the past lives of Our Brothers. Will not Our Life serve you as an inspiring example of beautiful, though weighty, armor?
Supermundane I, 130
4. Urusvati knows that it is the heroes and martyrs who build nations. Pythagoras and even earlier thinkers knew this truth, but ancient truths should be reexamined in the light of science. So say the scientists, and they are right. Who, then, are the heroes and the martyrs and how can they be described? From the scientific point of view, like living volcanoes, they throw out the intense energies needed for evolution. In this we can see an example of how subtly ethics and biology are entwined. The Teachings of the New Life show that exaltation is a blessed intensifier, and people cannot exist without these explosions that open the way. If cosmic explosions can be creative impulses, then human explosions are likewise needed for evolution. Many people call the heroes and martyrs fanatics, but We do not approve of this label, for it belittles the better side of heroism. On the contrary, a real hero knows the truth of self-renunciation. He does not attempt to destroy anything, but tries to apply his powers in the best possible way. They are foolish who assert that martyrs belong only to the remote past and do not exist today! Heroism and martyrdom are increasingly in evidence, and are presently characteristic of entire nations. These examples are not as clearly discerned, but it can be said that certain nations are creating a completely new rhythm of life. The Thinker knew that the many would be formed into nations, and that the self-sacrificing work of nations would be of great value, and understood as heroism.
Supermundane II, 272
5. Urusvati knows the many forms of heroism. It is said that circumstances make the hero; it would be better to say that circumstances awaken the hero. Many people do not understand this phenomenon, but others know what is destined for them and carry out their mission from an early age. Some sense that they must fulfill something, but their consciousness does not provide a clear indication. For such born heroes circumstances will be the key. They will force the sounding of the deep inner strings and bring about the required podvig. Today, people do not usually speak about heroes and their achievements. When history narrates heroic deeds, they shrug their shoulders, saying, “It is not for us to perform heroic achievements!” Thus they affirm their own ignorance! Every era has a place for heroism, beginning with the humble conditions of family life up to cosmic manifestations. One must be able to elevate oneself above the demands of daily life and attend to the needs of the Common Good. Many great opportunities for achievement will then be found; people should not think of podvig as inappropriate. It is instructive to observe in what nation the word heroism is more often used. Let us ask small children to name their heroes. They will not hesitate to reply, and should be encouraged to maintain this awareness throughout their lives. There was a game in India in which everyone had to name his greatest hero. A small child spoke of Krishna. He was rebuked, and was told that Krishna was a God. But the child insisted that Krishna was primarily a hero, for he labored for the good of his country. The child also pointed out that Krishna knew the language of the animals. He was corrected, “He played his flute and thus charmed the wild animals.” But the child insisted, “That means that Krishna knew the language of the animals.” The Thinker kept in mind the myth about Orpheus and always reminded His disciples that Orpheus was a human being.
Supermundane III, 664
6. Simple is the admonishment that one should not live in hatred, but the proclamations of today’s leaders often encourage it. They do not know the power of thought and of karma. He who thinks that evil can be exterminated by evil is gravely mistaken. Even the horror of war cannot be stopped by hatred. It is noble thoughts that will save mankind. Heroism is shaped not by hatred, but by fiery good will.
Supermundane IV, 734
7. Urusvati knows that heroism is an expression of self-sacrifice and fiery enthusiasm. When performing a heroic deed, one’s vibrations are raised, awareness of physical sensations disappears, and the entire being is filled with a fiery insight. Only the unknowing would ask--why speak about heroism when discussing the Supermundane? They do not understand that striving toward the Supermundane is itself an act of heroism. They do not know that each thought about the Supermundane raises the vibrations and fills the consciousness with fiery striving.
Supermundane IV, 735
8. One of the great concepts, often incorrectly interpreted, is precisely the great concept of humility. It has been interpreted as non-resistance to evil; it has been interpreted as good-heartedness, as compassion, but very few accepted it as self-denial. For only self-denial and self-sacrifice can give understanding of humility. Truly, We see the giants of spirit and the heroes who devote themselves fully to the humble tasks for the good of humanity. We know of great experiments being humbly carried out in the earthly laboratories for the benefit of humanity. We know the great fiery experiments of those who dedicate their lives wholly and humbly to the benefit of mankind. We know manifestations on the path to the Fiery World which inspire all surroundings. Truly manifold is humility manifested through self-sacrifice and self-renunciation. Heroism is a manifestation of various aspects of humility. Thus the records of space are filled with great deeds of humility. Invaluable are these fiery flights of the spirit. Thus, verily, the heroes of humility drain the cup of poison for the good of mankind.
Fiery World III, 24
9. Certain information about the legends you may gather from the essay of N.K., “The Soul of the People.” Naturally, in every country, in epos, the people have their own heroes who are particularly dear to them. Therefore, you should never limit the imagination of the young generation, and should let young people show interest in whatever inspires them most for heroism, for good. But in what costumes or in which century certain heroic deeds were performed really does not matter! When you study the books of Living Ethics, you will find many precious ideas on all these problems, as they are discussed very broadly.
LettersoOf Helena Roerich I, 26 December 1931
10. And so, be inspired! Write fiery articles in defense of the culture of spirit; praise heroism and podvig. As it is said in the Teaching, “Where the idea of heroism is considered ridiculous, or even indecent, there is real decay. By this sign, one can judge the decrepitude of nations. The last words of the Greatest Spirit to His Brothers when He was leaving the Earth were: ‘Create heroes!’” The time has come when we all must be heroic and must create heroes.
Letters of Helena Roerich I, 11 April 1934
11. Indeed, only podvig can nourish our spirit and accelerate evolution. Indeed, achievement and heroism must be thoroughly taught in schools. “Let children call themselves heroes and apply to themselves the qualities of remarkable people. Let them be given books of clear account, wherein the faces of toil and of will have been depicted without any soft coatings. Even for medicinal purposes this valiant call of life is irreplaceable. Such material must be given without delay.”
Letters of Helena Roerich II, 11 October 1935
12. Without delay one should set up an organization of kindergartens and clubs, or communities, where children of different ages can gather in groups and be given the spiritual food which is lacking in schools and families. We learned recently that in California and elsewhere in America an organization dedicated to Prof. Roerich began its activities. The young people, members of this organization, call themselves “Torchbearers.” A torch is for them a symbol of knowledge transmitted by great men and women of the past and present. Young torchbearers choose from these heroes and heroines the image closest to them and strive to emulate it in their life. Their goal is to carry this torch of wisdom and achievement into the future, for the benefit of coming generations. Acquaintance with the self-sacrificing lives of all ages and nations helps the children to realize the grandeur of human dignity and destiny, and teaches them to love self-sacrificing attainment. From history we know that each great epoch was marked by the influx of a powerful wave of reverence for heroism in all its manifestations. The Ordainment of the Great Brotherhood is--create heroes.
Letters of Helena Roerich II, 19 April 1938
13. That man is called hero who acts selflessly, but this definition is not complete. He is a hero who acts self-sacrificingly, unwaveringly, consciously, and who, acting in the name of the Common Good, thus brings nearer the current of cosmic evolution. Heroes may be encountered in present-day life. One should not consider this concept inapplicable. If we fear to introduce such a concept, we ourselves break away from the path leading into the region of truth. One should recognize heroism in life; one should remember that the sword is the staff of the hero. Knowing how to turn sword into staff must find a place in the day's work.